AMHERST – One hundred dollars. There’s no other downside.
“It’s lifelong learning at its best, with no pressure,” said Joan Beswick, chair of the Amherst regional committee of the not-for-profit Tantramar Seniors’ College.
Jan. 15 is registration day in Amherst. Membership in the college is $100 a year, with no limit to how many courses you can take.
Beswick has been involved with the organization for about four years – almost since its beginning, in 2008. The college has grown a lot since then.
Phyllis Cameron, recently elected president of the college, said the number of courses grew from 10 in the fall of 2008 to 49 in 2012. The winter 2013 term has 69 courses.
“We have four regions that we offer courses in,” said Cameron.
Sackville, Amherst, the Moncton area and Shediac participate (although administrative obstacles cancelled Moncton’s fall term).
“We’ve seen substantial growth in the Shediac area,” she said.
Cameron said it’s hard to predict which courses will be well-received. Some have broader appeal than others. She thinks offering a variety of subjects is the way to serve members.
Heather Patterson is the lone, part-time paid employee. She’s been there from the beginning. The Tantramar college was modeled after a similar program in PEI. She invited people to get together for a planning session and 65 showed up.
Amherst has a number of new or new-to-Amherst courses for the winter term, according to Patterson.
“We’re having bowling for the first time,” said Patterson.
Other new topics range from learning how to use your breadmaker to learning how to navigate Facebook. If you always wanted to watch Coronation Street but didn’t know how to dive into the decades-long serial, a class devoted to the subject might help. And if you don’t know a hammer from a screwdriver, Tantramar will show you.
Depending on the course, participating in the college may be a way to get physical activity or learn something new. It’s also a chance to socialize and make new friends, according to Cameron.
Registration takes place Jan. 15 from 4 p.m. to 5:15 at Trinity-St. Stephen's United Church Hall. The program is for those 50 and older.